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Luminaria Essentials: Visual Art Must-sees at Luminaria 2016 

click to enlarge Kaldric Dow
  • Kaldric Dow
One of the most interesting and important things about Luminaria’s programming is that it, at least to some degree, reflects the concerns native to its footprint, as it roams from locale to locale within San Anto each year. With this year’s all-arts fest on the Eastside, many of the contributing artists and performers call us to celebrate a rich and unique cultural landscape, while at the same time drawing our attention toward important issues in the community and/or its representation in larger, city-wide dialogues.

Arlene Mejorado Fresh off a stellar Fotoseptiembre contribution (“Califas Lens, San Anto Heart: Outside Looking In”) and participating in the San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture’s recent “SATX/MX” exhibition, photographer, documentarian and multimedia artist Arlene Mejorado will present a new body of work in the form of wheat-paste murals installed throughout the Eastside. For Mejorado, as she told the Current a few weeks back, the primary concern is to “make people and experiences visible that speak to [my] own vantage point and journey as [a] photographer.” As such, her photo-journalistic work focuses on capturing portraits and snapshots that exemplify, in a natural and in situ manner, the daily experience of Mexican American culture, particularly surrounding the neighborhoods, flea markets, tiendas and traditions. In Mejorado’s estimation “Love is an important component to getting a good shot,” and, as is quite evident in her work, she has “immense love and compassion” for the individuals and communities that shine in her photography. Free, 6-8pm Wed, Nov. 9, throughout the neighborhood.
click to enlarge Brett Elmendorf
  • Brett Elmendorf
Brett Elmendorf attended Butler University, where he earned a bachelor of science in physics and participated in photoionization experiments in quantum mechanics. Later, he moved to San Antonio to work as a web programmer as one of the first hires at Rackspace. These days, when he’s not working on programming technology to help an array of systems run smarter, he brings his immense technical knowledge to bear on integrative projects that move artistic expression, cultural commentary and technology forward, all at once. His contribution to this year’s Luminaria, entitled “Eastside Light Rail Experiment v1.1: Abstract Representation of Realtime Rail Kinetics Through a Closed Photoionization Process,” is a data-driven light sculpture with sensors that detect current train activity and, in a process that makes data tangible and draws attention to transportation issues on the Eastside, projects this data as patterns of light directly onto the Hays Street Bridge. Elemendorf is a part of a growing cadre of folks who are using their technological/technical aptitude to grow technology’s range as an avenue for human creative expression. Free, 8-11pm Thu, Nov. 10, Hays Street Bridge.
click to enlarge Joan Frederick
  • Joan Frederick
Joan Frederick An Alamo City transplant with roots in Oklahoma, Joan Frederick is an artist, writer, photographer, arts advocate and an acclaimed Native American art historian. For Luminaria this year, Frederick — who makes her second appearance as an official Luminaria entrant — will present an installation that riffs on Donald Judd’s minimalist aluminum box pieces at Marfa’s Chinati Foundation. Her installation pieces are similarly shaped, imposing aluminum cubes that, unlike the stark and remotely off-putting house of mirrors aesthetic that Judd achieves, glow and are pleasantly altered (and given form) by the shifting colors of the rainbow that illuminate them from within. As a scholar of art history, it’s no surprise that Frederick’s contribution here thrives, in part, because of its referential nature. An ode to the heart of Luminaria’s vision, to illuminate San Antonio both literally and figuratively, these constantly changing light boxes provide a deep sensory experience, while offering an avenue from which to explore art history. Free, 8-11pm Thu, Nov. 10, Hays Street Bridge; 8pm-midnight Fri, Nov. 11, Dignowity Park (701 Nolan St.) and Lockwood Park (801 N. Olive St.).

Kaldric Dow A contemporary realistic portrait painter, Kaldric Dow takes the preservation of voices, personalities, communities and dialogues as his starting point. It is his expressed desire to give a voice to those who might otherwise be silenced. While portraiture might seem a strangely antiquated medium for the relatively young Dow, he likes working with a form that connects him to the past and to various traditions of historical painting. Dow’s work in portraiture is driven forward by the precept that it is important for everyone to see portraits of African Americans within the fine art context. His bold painting is hallmarked by vibrant color, intense contrast, and rich gradations of skin tone. At Luminaria, Dow will display eight portraits that honor men and women who were born and/or raised on San Antonio’s Eastside. Free, 8pm-midnight Fri, Nov. 11, Dignowity Park (701 Nolan St.) and Lockwood Park (801 N. Olive St.).

Sarah Brooke Lyons For her Luminaria 2016 entry, Sarah Brooke Lyons — the photographer that brought us the powerful celebration of identity and community that is the “1005 Faces” project — has teamed up with young women at the Martinez Street Women’s Center (MSWC). The resulting photo-portraiture project, which falls right in line with MSWC’s mission to “[further] the educational opportunities and well-being for girls and women in underserved communities,” ruminates upon issues that affect SA’s Eastside (and other underserved communities), including gentrification, poor health/dietary awareness, homelessness, addiction and lack of access to good/affordable healthcare. This innovative collaboration, which pairs an academically trained and socially aware artist with the comparatively innocent and unvarnished perspectives, talents, and concerns of the young women at MSWC, represents the best of what citywide arts events can provide: purposeful dialogue and collaboration across socio-economic and cultural barriers. Free, 8pm-midnight Fri, Nov. 11, Dignowity Park (701 Nolan St.) and Lockwood Park (801 N. Olive St.), Carver Community Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry St.

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